So what does it mean to be extraordinary? Extraordinary is an achievement of a level of accomplishment that becomes memorable because it is beyond the normal, the expected, and the usual. Extraordinary sticks in the front of your mind, whether it is something personal—like graduation, marriage, or the birth of a child, or it may apply to a large number of people—like V-J Day, the Kennedy Assassination, or the day the Berlin Wall came down.
Extraordinary begins with the root word ordinary. It starts with what is normal and expected. Extraordinary events begin as the usual. Extraordinary service begins with the normal service one expects—being greeted by name, having the transaction completed quickly, and being treated courteously.
But to be extraordinary you must go beyond. This week marks the first two rounds of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. This always shows up as an example of what is ordinary and what is above. Ordinary is making it to the tournament. Extraordinary begins with a team who is not supposed to win a game against a foe that is bigger, stronger, and overall better, beats that team.
In the first round of this year’s tournament, one of the best examples of extraordinary is the Middle Tennessee-Michigan State game. The game began as a classic of a #2 seed, who many expected to win the entire tournament, playing the token game with a #15 seed. Usually these games involve the lower seed making a good run and fading in the late in the first half or early in the second as the higher seed cruises to victory.
This game was different than the ordinary. Middle Tennessee got ahead from the beginning and never trailed as they ended with a 90-81 victory. Every time that Michigan State had a run and got closer, Middle Tennessee answered with a run of their own. What was expected did not happen. The extraordinary did.
Note that the first ingredient to change ordinary to extraordinary is effort. It takes extra effort, more effort than what normally expected, to begin the move to what is memorable. It also takes to never give up, even though there are obstacles that make us want to quit, and if we did quit, that would be acceptable in the normal of life.
A second round game I watched had 6th ranked Notre Dame playing 14th seed Stephen F Austin. I watched the second half of the game and Austin was in complete control. But in this case, the effort required to finish from SFA was not used as it appeared the team attempted to give up their dominance and play it safe, allowing the clock to run out while they had the lead. They missed several scoring opportunities in the final minute that they seemed to have made before. Notre Dame tapped in the winning basket with 2 seconds left for a one point win. They did not complete the effort needed to be extraordinary.
Every day, we face many opportunities to be ordinary in our work, families, and those we come in contact with. Many of these ordinary events can become extraordinary with increased effort on our part. Go the extra mile and your efforts can become the start of something memorable.